Belly dancing is an ancient form of dance that can be attributed to many cultures around the world. Sometimes thought as a “peasant dance” within different countries, belly dancing can highlight the traditions and values of a culture, era and the dancer him or herself. With the popularity of belly dancing on the rise, several traditions have grown out of the basics of the dance, bringing a wide variety of belly dancing styles to celebrations, haflas and gatherings. Most belly dancing, however, is based in the music of the Middle East, where the art is a revered form of expression that is directly tied to doumbek and darbuka drumming.
Belly dancing can be a group endeavor, or the showcasing of a particular dancer. The use of a doumbek or darbuka drum provides the basic rhythm of the dance, motiving the belly dancer or dancers through shimmies, hip drops and shoulder rolls. These movements are taught throughout the world of belly dance, each with distinct nuances that can sometimes even be thought of as a language. The drumimg serves to not only provide a rhythm, but also to accentuate the movements of the dancer, punctuating the dance with crisp beats and helping to build momentum through driving rhythms.
When it comes to a belly dance solo, the doumbek or darbuka also provides an extra layer of beauty to the dance. Both the drummer and the dancer work together in order to show the beauty of the dance, feeding off the movements of the dancer and, in turn, the beat of the drum. These drum solos are considered the hallmark of many traditional styles of belly dance, and a beautiful expression of the music and dance, overall. While the drumming for the belly dance drum solo is typically played on the doumbek or darbuka, many times a djembe or other hand drum can be substituted, especially with some of the “fusion” varieties of belly dance today.
Whether a belly dancer, drummer, or fan of the inherent music of a region or culture, the overall visual and musical expression of belly dancing can be exciting and creative. For the dancer looking to really impress an audience, no matter the size, incorporating live drumming into an act can really increase the dancer’s connection to the music, and the entire audience’s experience with belly dancing.